Computer scientist receives $1 million in grants for his research

9/22/2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Gang Tan, associate professor of computer science and engineering, has recently been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAPA: Collaborative Research: Lightweight Abstract Memory Feature grant and the Office of Navy Research (ONR) grant: "Semantics-Directed Binary Reverse Engineering and Transformation Validation."

Tan, who works in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said that the NSF grant is a collaborative grant with Lehigh University and Arizona State University, that will help them design a software tool chain—languages compilers, and runtime systems—that allows programmers to take advantage of modern memory features, including encrypted memory, transactional memory, and scratchpad memory.  The $2 million grant is jointly supported by the NSF and Intel, for three years. Tan and his team will receive $500,000 for their work.

“In terms of importance, the CAPA project allows my group to explore the design of a new language interface for programming modern memory features such as encrypted memory, recently included in Intel CPUs,” Tan said.

The three-year, $500,000 grant from the ONR will support Tan’s research binary-level reverse engineering.

“Before we are able to perform analysis and transformation on an executable program, we must reverse engineer it to get its basic information, including its instructions, its control-flow graph, and basic dataflow information. Previous reverse-engineering techniques are often ad hoc and do not have a formal basis,” said Tan. “There is also no evaluation about what would be the best reverse-engineering algorithms in terms of precision and performance. We plan to construct a reverse-engineering tool that makes it easy for principled exploration of the design space of reverse-engineering algorithms.”

Tan received his bachelor’s of engineering degree in computer science from Tsinghua University in China and his Ph.D. in computer science from Princeton University.  He is the recipient of an NSF Early Career Award.

 

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MEDIA CONTACT:

Rebekka Coakley
rac29@psu.edu
Gang Tan

Gang Tan, associate professor of computer science and engineering.

“In terms of importance, the CAPA project allows my group to explore the design of a new language interface for programming modern memory features such as encrypted memory, recently included in Intel CPUs,” Tan said.

 
 

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The School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was created in the spring of 2015 to allow greater access to courses offered by both departments for undergraduate and graduate students in exciting collaborative research in fields.

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